After two years of intensive planning, Racine's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is about to become reality. Planners say its unique.
“We think, from what we can ascertain, that we are the only major city bike pedestrian master plan in the Midwest that been mostly privately funded,” Dottie-Kay Bowersox says. She’s not only an avid cyclist, but is also Racine’s public health administrator.
An existing pathway system that stretches along Lake Michigan’s shore gave planners a starting point.
“We’ve got a beautiful shoreline – Pershing Park, Lake Michigan going out to North Beach and up and around and then connects with the country trail system,” Bowersox explains.
“Some of the signs are pretty small," she says. "Once you’re on a street, because you’re on the trail, you’re off the trail, you may get to a point where there’s an intersection and you’ve got to make a left, but you didn’t see the trail sign until about 10 feet ago, and there’s no way for you to get over with traffic and such.”
So, one of the plan's recommendations is to add signs that notify people early enough of lane changes.
Three meetings were held to gather community input throughout the planning process.
“Each one of them has surpassed the numbers or expectations of the previous one.” Bowersox adds, “More so than what’s been seen in the state of Wisconsin in other jurisdictions.”
Recurring topics of concern included courtesy, appropriateness and proper usage of bicycles.
“Also about visibility, cyclists cutting in and out of traffic and whether you’re a bicyclist or you’re a bike rider, there are appropriate rules of the road that need to be follow, just like a motor vehicle,” she explains. “It’s about visibility and paying attention to the traffic.”
Bowersox says plan drafters have also closely scrutinized intersections. “Just today I was reading the paper and again pedestrian deaths are up, so that’s why looking at intersections are important to look at and the availability of sidewalks.”
Planners also considered how both bikers and walkers can reach destinations easily.
“Library, grocery stores, medical care facilities, job opportunities... Earlier in this process that’s what we did to identify hundreds of opportunities where individuals want to go and congregate. And the streets are really the major component of it because not only for the cyclists but the walkers, because we still have some areas within the city that still don’t have sidewalks,” Bowersox says.
The final plan, she says, will be released sometime in June.
Racine’s Bicycle Master Plan is one of the topics of discussion at the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s 2017 Bike Summit, which is taking place Thursday at the UWM School of Continuing Education in downtown Milwaukee.
Note: During the interview, Bowersox also mentioned the planned Route of the Badger, you’ll find a previous interview about that project here.